Rick Scott booed again by protesters at Senate campaign stop in Orlando


  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
For the second time this week, Gov. Rick Scott was booed by environmental protesters at a U.S. Senate campaign stop in Orlando on Tuesday.

The Republican governor's "Make Washington Work" bus tour around Florida has hit a few obstacles in its 10 days as Scott campaigned against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. On Monday, Scott was called "Red Tide Rick" and a "coward" as he was angrily booed as out of a Venice restaurant by protesters who partially blame Scott's environmental policies for the toxic red tide algae blooms killing marine life and causing respiratory issues on the Gulf coast. On Sept. 9, Scott skipped an event in Santa Rosa Beach where critics were waiting to protest his signing of the controversial beach access law. 

The campaign made its final stop in Orlando Tuesday afternoon at Rigo Tile on Goldenrod Road after canceling an event in Scott's hometown of Naples a day after being booed in Venice. About 15 environmental protesters still found him, though, and chanted outside the event in Spanish "Que se vaya! Que se vaya! Que se vaya!"

  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Most protesters were holding signs calling on Scott to stop taking "fossil fuel" money from oil and gas companies' executives, but activists also carried signs that read, "Say no to Red Tide Rick."

Phillip Brown, who is with the Sunrise Movement, says he is part of a group of young people in the state concerned about climate change and how it's affecting communities in Florida.

"Rick Scott banned state employees from using the term climate change," Brown said. "Rick Scott in this election cycle only has accepted $1 million from fossil fuel companies. He's beholden to the interests of those companies and not the communities affected by climate change."

  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Scott's campaign event with Puerto Rico Lt. Gov. Luis G. Rivera Marín and other notable Florida Republicans of Puerto Rican descent focused on the Central Florida diaspora, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane María. Thousands of people from the island fled to the Sunshine State after the catastrophic storm.

Scott, noting the resources provided by his administration to evacuees after María, said, "We're going to keep doing everything we can and make sure people here and in Puerto Rico have everything they need."

When questioned about President Donald Trump's tweet last week denying that an estimated 2,975 people died in Puerto Rico after the hurricane, Scott didn't directly respond, though he has disagreed openly with Trump on this point.

"All of us could do a better job of getting services faster to Puerto Rico," he said. "We know it’s more difficult because it’s an island. But you can preposition things better. Clearly, the island was struggling with a utilities system that was already struggling. So, hopefully, I think it's in a better position now but they can't afford another hurricane right now."

When asked about the protests surrounding the toxic red tide algae blooms, Scott called the red tide "horrible."

"I think all of us would like the red tide to be gone," Scott said. "It's naturally occurring, it's part of the Gulf, it’s been around, there have been records of it since the 1840s. We've done a lot, but it's not gone. We put a lot of money to promote marine research and trying to look into ideas of how to deal with it. We've put a lot of money into helping our counties deal with cleanup."

But Scott said protesters had "the right to exercise your voice."

"That's what's great about this country, that's what's great about Florida," he said. "I respect everybody's right to what they think. … We need really good  easterly winds right now. I wish it would get off our beaches. I know so many people would enjoy our beaches and enjoy our fishing. But we're doing everything we can right now."

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